MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Dr Horace Chang has welcomed the completion of the artificial groundwater recharge system at Innswood, St Catherine, which is now in operation.
Dr Chang, who has responsibility for water, works and housing, said the facility’s development reflects the Government’s approach to effectively managing and administering the delivery of water.
He was speaking after a tour of the system on Wednesday.
The facility, which was developed at a cost of just more than $1 billion (US$133 million), with loan support from the Inter-American Development Bank, will supply an additional five million gallons of potable water per day to communities in sections of southern St Catherine and the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
This will be undertaken through the diversion of excess surface water from the Rio Cobre irrigation system into a treatment facility, which will then be deposited into sinkholes and wells for distribution to the beneficiary communities.
The National Water Commission (NWC) and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) are the main entities that will use the facility, which will be operated by the Water Resources Authority.
Dr Chang said the recharge facility is “a very significant piece of infrastructure” that will benefit all water users in the region.
“Water is a primary commodity in the development process. It is critical to production and the quality of life, and has to be administered and developed in a sustainable manner,” the minister said.
He expressed satisfaction with the quality of the work carried out on the project.
For his part, NWC President Mark Barnett said the facility would go a far way in reducing operating costs.
Managing director of the NIC Dr Mark Richards said the system’s development is consistent with the agency’s drought mitigation initiative. He added that “once water is stored underground, you don’t lose much of it by evaporation, as it is more secure there”.
Dr Richards gave an assurance to farmers in the south St Catherine plains that the NIC will continue to work to ensure they are provided with adequate irrigation water.
The project was completed by the Rural Water Supply Limited in just under 24 months.